this may seem like a thoughtful, innocent comment, but it was enough to send me over the edge after last night's harrowing win over the damn grrrowl. this is what cam keith said to us last night in greenville. and it pissed me off like you wouldn't believe. ok, i'll start at the beginning. the trip to greenville was actually fun, even though i was only running on 4 hours' sleep. the scenery on the drive up was awesome, especially after we crossed into south carolina - it's a beautiful state. the hotel was nice to have only cost $43, and it was located right next to the greenville mall. we didn't spend much time in the hotel, though. shortly after checking in, deva, chad, and i headed for downtown greenville to check out the bi-lo center and see what the city of greenville, sc has to offer. in a word, it's gorgeous - the bi-lo center and downtown greenville. while pulling up to the parking garage next to the bi-lo center, we spotted ryan vince coming from an undetermined location. of course, deva and i were excited at the sight of one of our beloved pilots, even if we were still pissed about the outcomes of the previous two playoff games. then, we spotted even more pilots heading into the arena, including scott may (we said hello), coach (said hello to him, too), corey n. & jacquo (saw them from afar), various other pilots (from afar), and cam keith. we saw cam up close, wished him luck, he thanked us for coming. it was very nice. the team seemed to be having issues gaining entry into the bi-lo center - the doors they had come out of earlier were locked. it was kind of amusing. anyway, we picked up our tickets and wandered around downtown. again, a beautiful city. tree-lined streets, tons of fun little shops and restaurants, gorgeous flowers planted along the streets (most of which were in grrrowl colors, as chad pointed out)...anyway, we eventually made our way back to the bi-lo center for the game, where the greenville fans were especially nice, going out of their way to say hello and thank us for coming. we soon discovered the reason for this - no one else goes to their games. the echl site may say that there were ~3200 people at that game, but that is the biggest lie ever. there may have been 1,000 people in attendance. that beautiful, beautiful arena was pretty bare. that is an awesome building, and it is going to waste on a team with very little fan base.
ok, now for a game synopsis. first, the officials in greenville were the fairest i've ever seen...and the grrrowl fans still bitched. they wouldn't know a bad call if it walked up, smacked them, and said, "hey, i'm a bad call. remember what i look like." a couple of trespasses went uncalled (an elbow here, a hold there), but they were committed behind the ref's back, so he's not really to blame. and they weren't over-the-top injury-causing infractions, so i'm not too upset about it. there was another disallowed goal (man in the crease), but rooneem was standing in the crease, although he had nothing to do with the puck's going into the net - morrison had a wide-open view, and rooneem never even tried touching the puck. again, it could've been worse, as we saw on thursday and friday. i was shocked and awed to discover that the grrrowl weren't up to their usual clutch n grab tricks last night. there was amazingly little holding happening - i attribute this to a referee who actually calls holding rather than just pointing at the offender to make him stop. let me tell you, it's astounding what the ice pilots can do given a free arm or two - passes work, they skate better, and they try to make things happen. the first two periods were excellent, our guys worked hard, and cam had an awesome couple of periods. i was feeling pretty good about life. and then came the 3rd. our guys seemed content to just sit back and play D, and try to win it 2-1. bad idea. the puck was in our end for most of the 3rd period. a little knot of badness began forming in the pit of my stomach as the pilots spent more and more time in their own zone. i was holding my breath, praying for a quick end to the period, that we could just hang on for a few more seconds...and then the world imploded. or that's what it felt like, anyway. 9 seconds left, i see the puck heading for net, our guys are scrambling, i cover my eyes...and hear the bi-lo center explode with sound. score one for the damn grrrowl. i didn't have to see the red light to know what had happened. with my head still in my hands, covering my eyes, i think, "we're toast. burnt, black, charred, nobody wants to eat me toast." i feel as if we've already lost. my morale is non-existent. i just want to cry. i glance around and see ryan o'keefe and cory stillman looking stoic up in the stands. not again. another freakin' overtime. i didn't think i could take it. i wished dearly that it had ended in regulation. the intermission was pure hell. then, we were playing again. i didn't care. i couldn't bring myself to feel much during that OT. the holding started again. the damn grrrowl were all over the pilots. but the puck stayed in greenville's end, and in the confusion in front of the net, somebody poked it in...i didn't see who did it. they announced it as ryan vince's goal, even gave him the 1st star. but the news reported it as dwayne's goal. who knows? anyway, i should've been happy, but i wasn't. i just felt...well, i wasn't sure how to feel. yes, we'd won. but i still wasn't happy. i didn't feel much of anything to tell the truth. i didn't cheer. i stood up before i'd realized that i wasn't happy about winning. it shouldn't have ended that way. it should've ended in regulation. but our guys fucked up at the end again. we just made it out this time, that's all. so, the new theme song of this series is "stayin' alive." ah, ah, ah, stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
anyway, we spotted some more pilots fans and went out to greet the guys, even though i wasn't feeling particularly supportive. most of the guys didn't say much. some greenville fans had cards of some of our players, and they were getting autographs. deva told cam he had a good game, he gave his thanks, again thanked us for making the trip, and as he was walking away, he turned and said to us, "i'll see you thursday." and i snapped (inwardly - i didn't say anything to the guys...but i fumed on the way to the car, and there were a couple of ice pilots behind us). thursday? thursday?!? what happened to tuesday? he sounded so sure of himself. "i'll see you thursday." like tuesday's game was in the bag. like there was nothing to worry about. like they hadn't struggled against this team three nights in a row and totally screwed up in the last few minutes. hello, guys! there might not be a thursday for you! so, i was finally feeling something - anger. and it felt good. much better than the emptiness i'd felt ever since greenville tied the game. i was absolutely fuming. and chad and deva thought it was funny. but i'm ok now. not too mad anymore, although i think our guys really need get their shit together, pronto. tuesday, they'd better be prepared to play a full 6 periods of hockey, if that's what it takes. i'd better see cam on thursday. i know he was just being nice...he was the nicest and most talkative of all the pilots last night. but i just couldn't take it anymore. i'm actually kind of thankful for his comment. it made me feel something other than empty. so, while you inadvertently pissed me off, thanks cam.
we saw nick and matty crossing the street on the way back to the hotel...i was still pissed. i'd made chad drive, as i probably would've hurt someone in my state of mind.
the drive back today was nice. i was in a better mood. we stopped at a state park on the georgia/south carolina line and took some great photos. then we stopped at a georgia rest area to get some pics of the mountains in the background. and now i'm tired. i need another weekend to recover from my weekend. but it's over now, and i have lots of work to do in the week ahead.
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